INSPIRED by the popular television show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Mr Kenny Cho, 25, is pursuing his dream of using digital forensics to investigate and fight crimes in cyberspace.

Crimes such as financial scams, computer hacking, virus attacks and theft of valuable data and money hurt companies and other users of information technology (IT) around the world.

Digital forensics is a growing niche industry here offering career opportunities for young men and women willing to pick up the skills and experience to protect IT security and tackle breaches by various people.

In a murder case, you can see the fingerprints on the weapon," Mr Cho says. "In the cyber world, you use digital forensics to trace when the culprit broke into your computer system and what the person did to steal money or destroy your website.

"You can get the information you need from the logs of the relevant IT security devices. You can gather the evidence to take the culprit to court and make internal changes to prevent further attacks or breaches of IT security."

Curiosity about how CSI investigators break computer codes to solve crimes and the realisation that the Government and more companies here will spend money to eliminate cyber threats prompted Mr Cho to fulfil his ambition to be a digital forensics investigator.

After getting a diploma in IT from Nanyang Polytechnic, he did his National Service before enrolling in a one-year course offered by the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) and the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia, which started in April 2006.

The course leads to a degree in computing science majoring in digital system security, and provides students with the basic knowledge to deal with vulnerabilities in computer systems, web applications and databases.

They learn subjects covering different aspects of computer and network security, including cryptography and encryption algorithms.

Lecturers and tutors stretched the abilities of the pioneer batch of 2006 undergraduates, encouraging them to think independently to solve a variety of problems.

Students could not rely solely on lecture notes to complete their assignments. They had to do a lot of research work to find the right answers.

Mr Cho found the course tough. He says: "I knew it would not be easy for me. I signed up straight after completing full-time National Service. My IT programming knowledge and skills were rusty.

"I had to do a lot of self-study to meet the demand for intensive programming knowledge required in the course. Completing every assignment was an achievement for me."

But he was also aware that the degree would open the door to many career opportunities.

Graduates can be hired to work as IT network and system engineers, security analysts, consultants and web security specialists. They can also develop their abilities to meet the growing demand for digital forensics specialists who can enhance IT security and curb cyber crimes

IT is a growing industry worldwide and its widespread usage creates boundless chances for fraud and deception.

IT professionals must constantly update their knowledge and skills and be open to changes in the industry. "They need to realise that IT is no longer a support tool, but a business strategy," says Mr Lee Kwok Cheong, the chief executive officer of SIM.

"The truly successful IT professionals will be those who are able to create wealth and value in the overall business environment."

Mr Cho has already reaped the rewards of the hard work he did in and out of the classroom. Despite the lack of working experience, he got a job as a security analyst with NCS about a month before he got his SIM-UOW degree. NCS is a company providing a range of IT and communications engineering solutions supporting customers' business goals throughout the life-cycle of their technologies.

Currently a network engineer, Mr Cho is keen on honing his skills. In February this year, he took a one-week course to learn how to be a certified digital forensics investigator - another milestone on his journey to acquire the qualifications and experience to be a top-notch fighter of cyber crimes.